1.13.2009

Evangelicals should stand with those who suffer in Israel and Gaza

A Christianity Today blog post on the current bloodshed in Gaza says this: In counting their losses, Christians, Muslims, Jews discover common ground in grief. The article goes on to suggest that placing blame helps to perpetuate the violence.

I disagree.



The disproportionate nature of Israel's response to Hamas must be condemned by the Evangelical Christian community because it is unequivocally unjust, and horrible evil. The way that innocent children are dying in the Gaza strip is completely unacceptable!

Wikipedia calculates the numbers this way: As of 13 January 2009, 13 Israelis (including 3 civilians) and 933 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed in this conflict. The Palestinian fatalities include 292 children and 75 women.[42][43][44][45] [46]

Many would in turn respond with questions about Hamas, "Israel is just responding to the evil perpetrated on it." they would say. And they would be right, but as we teach our children, two wrongs don't make a right, particularly when one wrong is grossly disproportionate to the first.

I do not want to join my voice to the thousands of antisemitic voices that turn a blind eye to the evils of Hamas. I could comment on their atrocities, but their conduct is well documented and condemned. What is problematic is the unequivocal backing of Israel's terror practices by the United States, the Christian community and Evangelicals in particular.

As Evangelicals the Word of God is our first guide. The Bible gives us a history of the working of God in history, often through his chosen people Israel. It is natural that we would have a special affinity for the place and people where God first chose to work. However as Proverbs 27:6 says: wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. When we fail to warn our friend Israel of her failure to defend the human innocents on both sides of an artificial international border, we are an enemy multiplying kisses.

One of the favorite Old Testament passages for the Evangelical is Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

But notice the passages that precede that verse

Isaiah 1:15-18
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. 18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool

It may be appropiate for Israel to enter Gaza and chase down Hamas, though that is debatable both on practicle and philosophical grounds. However, if it is going to do so, it must do so in a way that conforms to international law, and a basic sense of justice and respect for human life. The Christian perspective on what this looks like is well documented in its many writings on Just War theory. Which it seems the Christian community is wofully ignorent of when it comes to the war between the Palestenians and Israel.

What I am really concerned about is the voice of the Evangelical on the street and the poor name we give our Savior when we and our nation turn a blind eye to the atrocities and terror going on in Gaza. Hamas is a terrorist organization. However when an overwhelming number of children are terrorized by the Israeli army, what are they?

The message of Christ taught by the Evangelical community must seek to love, respect and restore all people, regardless of race, creed or nationality. And we must stand in solidarity with all who suffer. And more than that, like Christ, we must speak out against all who perpetrate this violence. In this case that is both Hamas and the Israeli Army.

2 comments:

Mx5 said...

It would be great if you could post some ideas on how Christians, whether they label themselves Evangelical, Missional, Emergent, Traditional, Mainline could help apply pressure.

Ideas?

David Best said...

I think the place to begin is seeking to understand the indigenous evangelical presence overseas.

Lynn Hybels has a great article about that here

Part of my motivation comes from the fact that it would probably be accurate for the media to say that many in the Evangelical community in America back Israel unequivocally, which in turn reflects Christ poorly. So if enough of us changed our tune, that would be a step in the right direction. (check out this article for more on that) Practically that means literally contacting your elected representatives.

If enough Americans followed suit, then that could have an impact on our elected representatives, some of whom have a great deal of sway, often in the form of federal budgeting, and aid to other nations.

More practically speaking, funding and praying for evangelical organizations, churches and seminaries in the Middle east, is a great option. Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary is one such example.

Though my quick google search failed to turn up any overtly Evangelical organizations focused only on the Palestinian conflict, I suspect that many denominational mission offices and indidual churshes have plans for this region of the world.

Finally there is an article answering this question better than I can, here.